Many newborn parents lose a ridiculous amount of sleep. That seems to be what sticks out to so many parents is how tired they were with a new baby. The loss of sleep is enough to easily set us on edge and possibly even bring us to the brink of insanity.
Don’t be fooled, it is normal for night feedings to occur, particularly with newborns and infants, but there is also a point when the rate of these feedings become excessive rather than normal. We can only survive so long with the extra interruptions.
The question is, are you stuck in this cycle of excessive night feedings or is there something you can do about it? Is it a habit that you simply need to break or can you work around the issue?
These are great questions! After all, that’s why we’re here.
What Leads to Excessive Night Feedings?
Here’s the thing. As parents, we often use feeding time as a method to put our children to sleep. This then becomes what is known as a sleep prop. This means that your child will become reliant on that particular prop to be able to fall asleep. This includes waking up during the night.
We use all sorts of sleep props. Here are a few of them.
- Back rubs
Do any of these sound familiar? Now, don’t misunderstand. We are certainly not telling you that you cannot rock your baby or comfort them as needed. And you absolutely should continue feeding them!
We are simply recommending that you consider how you are using these items and whether or not you are teaching your babies to rely on them to sleep.
What is happening is your child is waking after every sleep cycle and then they need that prop to fall back asleep. Sleep cycles typically last 1.5-2 hours at a time, with a brief awake period in between.
Once your child relies on a sleep prop, this puts you getting up every 2 hours to deliver the prop and soothe the child back to sleep. It then becomes a habit that is hard to break.
What Can You Do?
There is nothing wrong with having a feeding as part of the bedtime routine. You can also have rocking and swinging as part of the routine as well. What we want you to consider is how you can structure your routine so that these practices don’t become the prop.
Maybe try starting with bath time or PJ time and feeding or using a bottle. From there, add something like storytime while you’re rocking before laying the baby down for the night. The key is that the child is not falling asleep during the feeding or directly after the feeding.
Once your child is 6 months old and they are gaining weight safely, you can probably cut out nighttime feedings completely. At this point, you can look into sleep coaching methods that might help with the process.
Focus on establishing a routine and working a little bit at a time. If you’re in the middle of excessive night feedings, it may take some time to resolve them. You will need to adjust your routine a little bit at a time and start working with your child to self-soothe as well.
Sometimes, you just need to give it a few minutes and see if your child puts themselves back to sleep. There are times when the child may need you but practice waiting a few minutes first. You might start with 2 minutes and then increase the time and work from there.
There is no cut and dry solution but you can certainly use these tips to help. Before you know it, you could be experiencing sweet and restful sleep, and so will the baby.
Contact Petite Dreamers
Here at Petite Dreamers, we stand with you to help you and your baby learn new sleep techniques. We understand what you’re experiencing, and we have answers to help you and your baby get the rest you both need. Contact Louise today; she’s certified, she’s professional, and she’s experienced. You can schedule a free discovery call to learn more. We’re excited to hear from you!